US publisher files for bankruptcy

ONE of America’s largest publishers has filed for bankruptcy due to overwhelming debt and a loss of revenue.

Tribune Co., which owns Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, other daily newspapers, cable channels, TV stations and the Chicago Cubs basesball team, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a bid to buy more time and sell assets to service its reported $US13 billion debt.

The company has already sold New York-based Newsday newspaper, and has declared interest in offloading the Cubs and their home ground, Wrigley Field.

Chairman and chief executive Sam Zell, who restructured the company’s finance when he privatised it a year ago, said in a memo to employees the paper had been caught in a “perfect storm”, reports said.

“A precipitous decline in revenue and a tough economy have coupled with a credit crisis, making it extremely difficult to support our debt. All of our major advertising categories have been dramatically impacted,” Mr Zell said.

Tribune Co. has 20,000 employees and has trimmed back its workforce this year to lower costs. The company said it would not lay off any more staff as part of the filing, according the National Post website.

One analyst said the bankruptcy was not necessarily a reflection of the entire newspaper industry’s position.

Ken Doctor, media analyst with Outsell Inc, said: “Tribune’s debt was so outsized and so disproportional to its cash flow compared to these other companies that it can be the sore thumb sticking out rather than an example of the industry.”

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